VOA News 26 April 2012
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by a special tribunal in The Hague.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone ruled Thursday that Taylor aided and abetted severe human rights abuses carried out by rebels during Sierra Leone's civil war.
Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said the judges ruled unanimously that Taylor was guilty of murder, rape, sexual slavery, recruitment of child soldiers, enslavement and other crimes.
Taylor is the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trial in 1946 of Karl Doenitz who briefly ruled Nazi Germany.
Prosecutors said Mr. Taylor masterminded Sierra Leone's civil war, arming and assisting Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels in exchange for “blood diamonds,” mined in eastern Sierra Leone.
Mr. Taylor was arrested and handed over to the court in 2006, three years after his indictment and subsequent resignation as president. The trial, which opened in 2007, was transferred from Freetown to The Hague amid regional security concerns.
During the trial, the court heard testimony from 94 prosecution witnesses and 21 defense witnesses, including Mr. Taylor.
The tribunal was established to try the most serious cases of war crimes rising from the Sierra Leone conflict. The Taylor case is expected to be the court's last major trial.